Monday, November 7, 2011

Naked Lounge | Sacramento, CA

I've said it before, and most likely, I'll say it many more times to come. The one thing that has really captured our imagination since we started sharing our food adventures with you has been meeting the people who make it all happen. The tireless owners, the accomplished chefs, the talented short-order cooks, the hardworking wait staff, the welcoming hosts, and ... well, the people. The every man, woman, and child who we've shared our story, and in turn, they have shared theirs.

Each of the adventures we've come to enjoy have become not just about the food, but about relationships. The euphoric feeling of being with someone who also shares in your passion, whether it's enjoying a time-tested burger that oozes with greasy goodness, an ice cream sundae that's piled to the ceiling with all the fixin's, or a volcanic chocolate bar that packs just enough heat to make you sweat and cry at the same time.

It doesn't take long to find this common bond. It can happen in just a split second, and then last for as long as the kitchen (or bar) is open. Take for example a recent visit we paid to the Naked Lounge-Midtown located on the corner of 15th and Q Streets. We had already heard so much about this converted house with its blending of neutral colors against recycled textures, its evocative paintings on the walls, and the owners' penchant to support new and up-and-coming musical acts. After all, the soothing and sometimes rockin' sounds were the only thing filtering out of the hidden speakers.

As I recall, it was a cold, rainy day in late Spring. Not enough to get one soaking wet, mind you, but enough to drive us indoors and call it a day for coffee or, in our kids' case, a good cup of hot chocolate. After commandeering a corner table near the front door, we surveyed the drink menu that was perched high above the counter where all the magic happened. The names were catchy, inspiring curiosity. There was the Press Pot, the Hammerhead, the Kerouac, and something called the Keith Richard. Each was described with an interesting flavor profile that had us pausing for a moment to say, "I think I can drink that."

In the end, however, we retreated to conservative wisdom. Two Mexican hot chocolates and two Mocha Thai drinks. Yes, we chose to be plain-Janes. We resolved to be BORING. The act did not go unnoticed.

"You should have tried their Bowl of Soul," came a friendly voice from the table next to ours. There sat two women, one dressed liked she had just come from a meeting, the other like she had just come from home. They sat side-by-side, taking comfort in not just each others' affection, but in the warmth that the Lounge offered. "We noticed that you both were having trouble deciding, and since you didn't order it, thought we'd suggest the Bowl of Soul for your next visit. We order nothing else."

The Bowl of Soul. A generous cup of camomile tea infused with vanilla soy milk, honey, and a sprinkling of cinnamon sugar. This was a cup of yummy goodness that reminds us of those little Calgon moments of being swept away. No wonder our new friends repeatedly order this and snuggle up to each other. Relax, release, and let go.

And so the ice was broken between us. Next thing we knew, we were all talking like we knew each other since forever, like stopping into the Lounge was not just some random act, but rather a planned rendezvous with old friends.

So, go forward on your next food adventure and take umbrage of the people who share the space around you. Given the backdrop provided by the Lounge, it's a good place to start. Locally owned and self-described as fiercely independent, it is one of four locations housed under the Naked Coffee umbrella. The others include Tupelo, Orphan, and Naked Lounge-Downtown, which also features a live music venue. They pride themselves "on a belief of individualism rather than robot-ism, and strive to inhabit unique urban neighborhoods while promoting creativity, dialogue and individuality." Oh, the stories you'll discover and the new friends that you'll make.

Naked Lounge
1500 Q Street
Sacramento, CA 95814

Out of the Kitchen Sacramento restaurants

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